Since my last blog posting (17 August 2013) there have been further reports of G.K. Chesterton’s cause for canonization being advanced. In addition to an on-going flurry of twitter posts, there have now been online reports by the Independent, the Spectator and the BBC. According to the BBC: “Bishop Peter Doyle said he had spoken to the ACS and would appoint a priest to make ‘tentative inquiries’” (the ACS is the American Chesterton Society). This, according to the BBC, “is the first official step towards the possible canonization of Mr Chesterton.”
The following are some of the posts relating to this event:
The Independent (Oscar Quine): “Saint GK Chesterton? Bishop begins preliminary tests for canonisation of writer”
The Spectator (Melanie McDonagh): “Why G.K. Chesterton shouldn’t be made a saint”
Catholic News Agency (Kevin Jones): “Possible sainthood cause for Chesterton sparks excitement”
Catholic Herald (Francis Phillips): “I hope Chesterton is canonised and made a new patron saint of journalists”
Jewish Chronicle (Oliver Kamm): “G K Chesterton: a writer unfit to be a saint”
It will be interesting to see if Chesterton’s antisemitic stereotypes and caricatures of greedy, usurious, capitalist, bolshevist, cowardly, disloyal and secretive Jews, which appeared not only in his fictional works but also in his journalism and articles in the New Witness and G.K.’s Weekly, will be taken into account when considering his worthiness to be considered a saint. It is of course not my place to venture a theological judgement on the holiness of Chesterton and his suitability for beatification. A number of individuals recognised by the Church as saints also wrote texts and sermons which contained hostile images and stereotypes of “the Jew” (for example, John Chrysostom’s Adversus Judaeos). Whilst I decline to advance a religious or theological opinion, I would venture a purely social one. Considering Chesterton’s discourse about “the Jew” and the so-called “Jewish Problem”, which was replete with ugly deprecating stereotypes, the appropriateness and wisdom of considering him a saint or a prophet is, from the perspective of promoting understanding rather than misunderstanding between Christians and Jews, at the very least questionable.